Financial Fudementals

Part 1

Ryan Taylor Data News Weekly Columnist

“Popping tags” and “Ballin” are popular slang terms we often associate with riches or being financially well-off. When the beat drops and you hear “$2,000 just for the shoes I put on, spin out and do a 360 for nothing (probably in a car most people can’t afford)” … your natural inclination might be to start nodding your head and swaying to the beat. Afterall that’s the effect it’s supposed to have right? If we didn’t feel the music … “the culture” wouldn’t be a thing because it wouldn’t make money, which at its core is what we’re glorifying right? Making money and living the good life.

As adults we have to separate the entertainment value from what we actually do with our money. When we seek to live out what we hear in our music or see in the media, things can take a turn for the worst. We can end up spending above our means, piling up unnecessary debt, and living paycheck to paycheck. If you’re wearing and driving every penny you make … you’ve popped too many tags and need to re-think what you consider “ballin.”

“Ballin” is state of mind that codifies hustle and self-discipline. It’s not only about making money and then frivolously spending it on depreciable consumer items such as cars and clothes. It’s about managing the money you make to build wealth and ultimately have it work for you. That starts with building a solid financial foundation. To maximize our savings and investing, we first need to enfranchise ourselves into mainstream financial services and products.

McKinsey & Company produced a report called, the economic impact of closing the racial wealth gap stating that almost half of Black households (47%) are unbanked or underbanked. Underbanked being defined as not having sufficient access to mainstream financial services and products offered by retail banks. This means a large population within our community rely on alternative financial services like check cashing and prepaid cards, which charge significant fees to people accessing their own hard-earned money recorded at $40,000 over the life of one’s career.

“Ballers” do not let 40 bands slip through their hands by not having the right financial products at their disposal. As Jay-Z said, “If you owe me $10 dollars, you ain’t paying me $9.” You get a checking account to manage your inflows (money coming in) and outflows (money you owe to other people). You keep a savings account to stack your paper up in case of an emergency, save for a big purchase, or accumulate dollars to invest in other larger interesting bearing financial vehicles (e.g. CDS, IRAs, stocks, bonds, commodities, alternative investments, real estate, etc.) that build your wealth.

If you’re in the market for a checking account and savings account, think about supporting your local Black depository institution ( In Louisiana, that would be Liberty Bank and One United Bank. Otherwise check out These bank accounts offer great terms and fees and allow for $0 dollar balances. Likewise, when opening a savings account, make sure to maximize the amount of interest earned on your deposits (money you put in the bank) by opening a high-yield savings account. A list of the best high-yield savings accounts can be found here

In the next issue we’ll discuss creating a budget and how to maximize your savings. Remember its journey of small steps, but with a little bit of discipline and effort we can all be “ballers” in our own right.

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